The exceptionally fine wines of the Western Cape are enjoyed by casual drinkers and connoisseurs from all over the world. The tradition of winemaking is intricately interwoven with the history of the Cape and to a large extent has shaped the culture of the region. Today, visits to wine farms are among the most popular tourism activities of the Western Cape. Apart from affording an opportunity to taste and buy fine wines and learn more about winemaking, they are also a novel way of touring the lovely countryside and of viewing historical places, appreciating Cape Dutch architecture and sampling the excellent cuisine. Wine routes have been mapped out to allow visitors access to most of the vineyards in the province. Many of these vineyards have restaurants and also make cheese to complement the taste of their excellent wines. The valleys and hillsides of the winelands, known locally as the Boland, are awash with vineyards. Some of the best known wine routes are the Stellenbosch route, the oldest wine route in the country, as well as the Constantia, Franschhoek, Wellington, Paarl and Helderberg wine routes.
Constantia Wine Route
Constantia’s status as the birthplace of South African winemaking is undisputed. This route is relatively small by comparison with the other wine routes, but the natural beauty of the area, its history, architectural elegance and the high quality of its wines make it well worth the trip. A visit to Constantia brings immediate intuitive understanding of why the Governor of the Cape in 1685, Simon van der Stel, could not resist making this his private property, which he named Groot Constantia (Great Constantia). Constantia wines are sought after world-wide and have won many accolades for their superb quality.
The Constantia Wine Route can be reached within 20 minutes from Cape Town’s city centre. For more information on the route, visit the website at http://www.constantiawineroute.co.za
Durbanville Wine Route
The Durbanville Valley lies just 20 minutes away from Cape Town and is home to some of the most respected and award-winning winemakers in the country. The area is primarily a wine-producing district and there are six active winemaking cellars. Durbanville Wine Valley is best known for its Blanc and is especially noted for its Shiraz.
For more information on the Durbanville Wine Route, visit the website at http://www.winetoday.co.za
Franschhoek Wine Route
Franschhoek, which means “French corner”, was established over three centuries ago when French Huguenots settled in the area. Their contribution to the country’s history and culture is honoured by the Huguenot Memorial and Museum.
The Franschhoek area consists of some 21 estates and offers wine sales and tasting. Two of the most popular estates are Bellingham and Boschendal.
Helderberg Wine Route
The majestic Helderberg Mountain Range guards this wine route and gave it its name. Only 15 minutes from Cape Town International Airport, the drive takes one into the heart of the Helderberg region. The region lies near Somerset West and other well-known wine-producing districts, namely Paarl and Stellenbosch.
The Helderberg Wine Route comprises some 19 farms and also includes the largest, private port producer in the world. For more information about the Helderberg Wine Route, visit its website at http://www.helderbergwineroute.co.za
Klein Karoo Wine Route
The Klein Karoo Wine Route is situated on the easternmost point of the winelands, some distance from the other, perhaps better-known routes, along Route 62. The route includes some five wine cellars and also includes Cogman’s Kloof and De Rust. The Klein Karoo wine cellars offer wine enthusiasts a range of exquisite world-class ports, dry wines and brandies.
For more information on the wine cellars of the Klein Karoo, visit the wine routes website at http:/www.kleinkaroowines.co.za
Paarl Wine Route
The main road of the town of Paarl is lined with exquisite Cape Dutch buildings. Taking this route allows visitors to view many historic estates and to savour the wines produced in this lovely region. Paarl, meaning “pearl”, is a 56-km drive from Cape Town. Among its most popular estates are Nederburg, Backsberg and South Africa’s first black-owned winery, Nelson’s Creek Estate and New Beginnings.
Stellenbosch Wine Route
Stellenbosch has already celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of the founding of the wine route, which was established in 1971. Stellenbosch, founded in 1679, is the second oldest town in the Western Cape and its wine route is the oldest in the country. All the estates on this route lie within a 12-km radius of the town.
The wine route consists of some 44 cellars and the wines of these cellars are rated among the best in the world. Most of the estates can lay claim to a fascinating and long history and this legacy is also open to scrutiny by interested visitors. Savouring the tastes and experiences offered by the wine route is an experience definitely not to be forgotten!
For more information on the individual wine cellars in the Stellenbosch Wine Route visit its website at http://www.stellenbosch.co.za.
Wellington Wine Route
The town of Wellington is situated amongst lush vineyards and olive and fruit orchids at the foot of the Hawekwa Mountains.
The route leads to some of Wellington’s most prestigious wine cellars where visitors can taste and buy the wines or enjoy leisurely lunches under the trees. Wine enthusiasts and casual visitors alike will gain value from a visit to the Wellington region